All posts by Sam Draut

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Schimmel, Slaughter, Taylor selected in WNBA Draft

Shoni Schimmel was selected eighth in the 2014 WNBA Draft by the Atlanta Dream on Monday night.  The 2014 All-American joins former Louisville star Angel McCoughtry, the two are the only two thousand point scorers in program history.

Antonita Slaughter was selected 35th by the Los Angeles Sparks, while Asia Taylor was selected 36th by the Minnesota Lynx.

Louisville is the only school in the 2014 WNBA Draft to have three players selected.

The three will debuted for their respective teams on Friday May 16, the opening night for the WNBA.

Louisville falls to Maryland 76-73

Despite a heroic effort by Shoni Schimmel in the final thirty seconds, Louisville fell to Maryland 73-70 Tuesday night at the KFC YUM! Center.

Down 70-62, Schimmel hit her first of three three-pointers to give the Cardinals a final shot at a chance to go to the Final Four.

After Alyssa Thomas connect on her second free throw to push the Terrapin lead to 76-73, Maryland coach Brenda Frese took a timeout with 3.5 seconds left, allowing Louisville coach Jeff Walz to draw up a final play for Schimmel.

Needing to go the length of the floor, Sara Hammond inbounded the ball to Asia Taylor near half court, who then found Schimmel streaking to the wing for final shot, which bounced off the back iron.

“We perfected it, the ball just didn’t go in. The one that didn’t go in was the last shot I wanted. But it just didn’t fall. Nothing much you can do about that,” Schimmel said.

Schimmel finished her final game in a Cardinal uniform playing all forty minutes and scoring 31 points.

After trailing 41-34, their largest deficit of the night, Maryland responded with an 18-4 run, which included an eight minute scoring drought by the Cardinals.

Maryland stretched their lead to 12 with two minutes left, but Louisville continued to fight back into the game.

The Terrapins were 25 of 28 from the free throw line, including 9 of 10 from freshman guard Lexie Brown.  She finished with 20 points, six rebounds, and four assists.

Thomas was named the Region’s Most Outstanding Player, collecting her 27th double-double of the season with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

Louisville took a 36-32 lead into the break after scoring 14 points off turnovers and 12 steals in first half.

Antonita Slaughter scored nine of her 16 points in the first half.  Taylor added 12 points and eight rebounds.

For the Cardinals, who finish the year 33-5, the program’s second most wins in a season, came up short of their season long pursuit.

“It’s no question our goal was to get to Nashville, and unfortunately we fell a game short,” Walz said.

Louisville advances to Elite Eight

Louisville cruised to a 73-47 victory over LSU on Sunday to advance to the Elite Eight.

Shoni Schimmel led Cardinal scorers with 19 points and added six assists.  Tia Gibbs hit five three pointers, finishing with 15 points and five rebound.  The two seniors combined for eight of the Cardinals season high 12 made three pointers.

The seventh seeded Tigers were limited to playing just eight players due to injuries, while Louisville’s bench outscored LSU’s reserves 28-0

LSU (21-13) held a 12-11 lead through the first eight minutes of the game, but Louisville (33-4) closed the half on an extended 30-11 run, giving them a comfortable 41-23 halftime lead.

During the run, Gibbs connected with two threes on back to back possessions.

Louisville will play fourth seeded Maryland on Tuesday night at the KFC YUM! Center for a trip to the Final Four.

seniors

No. 11 Louisville beats No. 19 UConn 81-48

By Sam Draut–

No. 11 Louisville celebrated the careers of the four seniors who have seen the most wins in their careers in Cardinal history as Louisville routed No. 19 Connecticut 81-48 on Saturday at the KFC YUM! Center.

Stephan Van Treese, Tim Henderson, Luke Hancock, and Russ Smith were all honored before the game, then started and played integral roles in the Cardinals first victory over a ranked team at home this season.

Montrezl Harrell led Louisville (26-5) with 20 points and 11 rebounds, his ninth double-double of the season.

“He’s an incredible basketball player right now. He’s improved his passing. He’s improved his dribbling. He’s improved his one-on-one moves,” coach Rick Pitino said.

Hancock paced the seniors in scoring, hitting four three-pointers, finishing with 16 points and three rebounds.

But Smith stole the show, passing his way to a career high 13 assists.  In 30 minutes of play, Smith took just two shots from the field, scoring three points and adding four steals.

“I can’t ever imagine Russ Smith, knowing him, on senior night, would pass up all opportunities to score and get 13 assists. It shows you how much he has grown,” Pitino said. “He got to play point guard and he knows the role of a point guard, which is pass before shot.”

Van Treese, starting his ninth consecutive game, pulled down a season high 13 rebounds and scored six points.

“We need him to play exactly the way he played,” Pitino said. “We need him because now he’s a legitimate player that helps us win the game so now we fully expect him to play that way every night.”

Tim Henderson logged 14 minutes in his first career start and scored two points.

Louisville opened the game on a 17-5 run through the first eight minutes.  Connecticut (24-7) started the game 0 of 8 from the field, but settled in an trailed 30-18 at halftime.

“If we can play that stifling defense, we are a tough team,” Pitino said. “We have been playing 90-100% man this season, and tonight we went all zone, which I thought we played awesome.”

Connecticut’s offensive struggles stemmed from a poor performance from the Huskie’s backcourt of  Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright.  UConn’s two leading scorers combined for 13 points on 4 of 24 shooting from the field.

“The biggest focus on the game was wearing those two guys out physically without fouling,” Pitino said.

After going five games without hitting a three-pointer, Wayne Blackshear connected with three on Saturday and finished with 11 points.

Chris Jones added 10 points off the bench.

With the win, Louisville won a share of the AAC regular season title with Cincinnati.

“We are happy with it, as long as we have a share of it,” Pitino said. “I think that is great and they have had a terrific season. We are excited about it. We will share it with anybody and we had a great season. I am very proud of our guys. ”

Russdiculous

No. 11 Louisville beats No. 18 SMU 84-71

By Sam Draut–

Russ Smith scored 22 points in the second half, hitting six three pointers, leading eleventh ranked Louisville to an 84-71 win against eighteenth ranked Southern Methodist.

The Cardinals second road victory over a ranked team this season was sparked by the senior guard, who finished the game with 26 points, six rebounds, and five assists.  Smith was 6 of 6 from behind the arc.

SMU blitzed Louisville early, going up 18-5 through the first eight minutes.  After falling behind 26-12, the Cardinals finished the final six minutes of the half on a 20-4 run, taking a 32-30 lead into halftime.

Chris Jones kept Louisville afloat in the first half, scoring 13 of his 21 points before the break.

Louisville (25-5) led SMU 43-41 with 13 minutes left in the second half when Smith connected with three three-pointers in 84 seconds.

SMU (23-7) cut the lead to 55-54, but Louisville received another 11 point scoring burst from Smith to put the game away.

Montrezl Harrell scored 19 points and pulled down eight rebounds.  Luke Hancock added 15 points.

The sixth consecutive sellout crowd in Dallas saw SMU’s first home loss of the season, the Mustangs had previously defeated three ranked teams at Moody Coliseum.

Louisville wraps up the regular season with a home finale against UConn at the KFC YUM! Center on Saturday.  The Cardinals are guaranteed at least a share of the AAC Regular Season title with a victory over UConn.

No. 1 UConn defeats No. 3 Louisville 68-48

No. 3 Louisville fell to No. 1 Connecticut 68-48 in front of a record attendance of 22,163 on senior night at the KFC YUM! Center.

Breanna Stewart led the Huskies with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks.

The Cardinals (28-3) started the game on a 7-0 run, the Huskies (30-0)  largest deficit of the season.  Louisville started the game 9 of 12 from the field, but after the hot start shot just 11 of 41 for the remainder of the game.

“We got some really good looks,” U of L Head Coach Jeff Walz said. “We did a great job the first ten minutes at the offensive end.”

UConn weathered the early scoring burst from Louisville as Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis hit three three-pointers in the first half.  She finished with 13 points.

“I knew at some point our defense would get settled down and at some point they were going to stop shooting 70 percent from the floor. You just know you just got to ride it out and wait,” Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma said.

Sara Hammond’s two made free throws at the 11:57 mark in the first half gave Louisville their final lead of the game.  After the 22-21 Cardinal lead, UConn went on an 11-0 run to take control of the game.

Tia Gibbs led Louisville scorers with 16 points.  Hammond was the only other Cardinal player in double figures with 12 points.

UConn out-rebounded Louisville 47 to 30, and limited the Cardinals to just two second chance points.

“We got some really good stops and then just could not come up with a rebound, and this is a team that we had talked about. When a shot goes up you’ve got to put a body on somebody, everybody does, because they team rebound at the offensive end,” Walz said.

U of L Women defeat Cincinnati 75-51

The third-ranked University of Louisville Women’s basketball team defeated Cincinnati 75-51 March 1 at Fifth Third Bank Arena.

The Bearcats (12-16) celebrated senior day, but it was the Cardinals seniors who celebrated.

Fifth year senior Tia Gibbs scored 17 points and fellow senior Antonita Slaughter hit four three pointers in the first half, finishing with 14 points.

“We needed a spark,” Gibbs said.  “It’s a different game so it’s a different person stepping up and we needed a spark off the bench.”

Shoni Schimmel scored ten points and Asia Taylor added 12 points and eight rebounds.

Louisville (28-2) avoided the proverbial trap game with top-ranked UConn approaching on Monday night.  Louisville head coach Jeff Walz credited the focused play based on the long standing annual matchups against Cincinnati.

“There was never a doubt in my mind that this would be a letdown game,” Walz said.

Now the attention turns to UConn, who defeated Louisville in Storrs, Conn. 81-64 on February 9.

“We have a lot to work on, but there were good moments too. We’re excited for Monday,” Gibbs said.

Photo by Austin Lassell

No. 7 Louisville defeats Temple 88-66

The seventh ranked University Louisville Men’s basketball team defeated Temple 88-66 on Thursday night at the KFC YUM! Center.

The Cardinals (24-4) were led by Russ Smith, who scored 24 points and moved to ninth in career scoring at Louisville.

Smith’s backcourt mates both finished with career highs.  Terry Rozier posted his career best with 19 points while Chris Jones added a career high of eight assists to go along with nine points.

“I was really impressed with Chris. I thought Terry was very good because I told them I want both of them to get to the free throw line more and more straight-line drives,” Rick Pitino said. “I think they both have tremendous upside to their games. I like both guys very much and I thought they were both outstanding tonight.”

Montrezl Harrell overpowered the Owls in the paint, scoring 21 points and pulling down six rebounds.

Louisville took control early, bursting out to a 24-6 lead through the first seven minutes of the game.  Smith had three layups in transition during the run as Louisville accumulated 21 fast break points throughout the game.

Louisville travels to Memphis (21-7) on Saturday.

“We always try to just get better in the month of February leading into March. I think we have gotten a lot better. We are a good basketball team right now,” Pitino said.

Brittany Owens earns AAC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week

The University of Louisville track and field teams have wrapped up the regular season and head off to the AAC Conference Championship, but not before Brittany Owens headlined the regular season.

Owens has been a stand out thus far, collecting two victories at the Meyo Invitational and the Hoosier Hills Invitational in long jump.

The sophomore from Boise, Idaho registered a mark of 6.11 meters in the Meyo Invitational and 5.99 meters in the Hoosier Hills Invitational.

Her personal best of 6.11 meters is good for the top mark in the American Conference and ranks her 26th nationally.

After her impressive showing at the Meyo Invitational, Owens was named AAC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week.

“I was honestly really shocked that I got it.  I PR’ed (personal record) which was nice and I won the Meyo invitational with 20 feet and half an inch, so I was really happy and pleased with that, but I want more so I am working for that,” Owens said.

Along with the long jump, Owens also competes in the triple jump, an event that she holds the American Conference’s fourth best mark.

“I love triple jump, but it is very hard on my ankles, coach doesn’t have me doing it as much, I’m hoping to be on podium for that at conference, so I’m working for that too,” Owens said.

The AAC Indoor Conference Championship begins this Friday and runs through Saturday.  Two weeks later, on March 14 and 15 Nationals take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I want to qualify for nationals.  So, I’m just working towards getting those victories and hopefully getting a victory at conference,” Owens said. “It is the top 16 marks in the country, so I would have to jump a couple more inches to get that.”

Owens has begun to hit her stride after moving nearly 2,000 miles away from where she was the two-time Idaho Girls Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year.

“It took a lot getting used to, there are a lot of different things coming into play when you go from high school, so making that adjustment is probably the hardest part,” Owens said.

“It was definitely hard, not having a support system at first is hard,” Owens said.  “But then you learn you do have a support system with your team, your coaches, your friends and it makes the transition a lot easier.”

During her freshman year, Owens competed in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, winning her first outdoor event in the long jump at the Border Battle.  She also opened her career at the Hoosier Open with first place finishes in the long jump and triple jump.

Now in her second year, Owens progression has helped her to become a top contributor on the team.

“My freshman year I had a lot of problems with the board, I was fouling all of the time, on a very good day I would jump a 19’ 8”,” Owens said. “Now I can consistently hit that no problem.  It is nice to know I can contribute to the team even on a bad day.”

And despite being so far away from home, Owens believes she found the right fit.

“I love this University, everyone is so supportive and not just for the big teams, but for everyone.  It really helps knowing you have a big family to support you along the way,” Owens said.

Owens will continue work towards her goals as she continues to star for the University of Louisville track team.

“Going into conference, I want to come out with a win in long jump, I want to beat the school record,
I want to place in triple jump, and I want to qualify for nationals,” Owens said.

No. 3 Louisville defeats No. 25 Rutgers 73-58

Asia Taylor set new career highs in scoring and rebounding with 25 points and 15 rebounds as third ranked Louisville defeated twenty fifth ranked Rutgers 73-58 on Sunday at the KFC YUM! Center.

Along with Taylor’s fifth double-double of the season, Sara Hammond collected her fifth double-double of the season too with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“It means nothing without the win. I’m happy that I got a career-high in both of those. That’s great. It just shows that I was out there working hard,” Taylor said. “But without the win, without Sara out there battling with me and Shoni getting me the ball and everybody playing together, that really means nothing. So I’m just happy about the win than anything.”

Rutgers (20-6) battled with the Cardinals early, leading 15-10, but Louisville closed the half out on a 15-5 run after trailing 21-19 with 9:02 in the first half.

Louisville (27-2) struggled from behind the arc, shooting just 5 of 22 (21.7%), but worked the ball inside, scoring 34 points in the paint.

“Once we started to attack early, we realized that we could use our quickness and athleticism to get around them instead of trying to score over them,” Taylor said.

The Cardinals also capitalized off of 18 Scarlet Knight turnovers, converting them into 23 points.

“We have done a really nice job of converting their turnovers into points and that is what you have to do. I thought Jude Schimmel’s steal and layup was a huge play in the game. It was just a really, really big play,” U of L head coach Jeff Walz said. “They kind of gained the momentum and then all of a sudden we took it back on that play. That is what we have to do.”

Shoni Schimmel scored 13 points and added four assists.

Bria Smith returned to the starting lineup after coming off of the bench for two games.  She finished with three points and five rebounds.

Louisville travels to Cincinnati on Saturday to play the Bearcats (12-15).

“We are going up to play a Cincinnati ball club that is always a big game. We have been playing each other for so long, that our players understand it is a rivalry game. So we are going to have to make sure that we are prepared, because they are playing for pride too, and they want nothing better, than to knock us off,” Walz said.